Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on

'Space stations' to transform Riyadh in mega metro project

August 1, 2013 -- Updated 0250 GMT (1050 HKT)
Construction of the Saudi Arabian capital's new metro system will begin next year. The King Abdullah Financial District station designed by Zaha Hadid Architects will be one of the most spectacular among 85 new stops. Construction of the Saudi Arabian capital's new metro system will begin next year. The King Abdullah Financial District station designed by Zaha Hadid Architects will be one of the most spectacular among 85 new stops.
HIDE CAPTION
Riyadh's futuristic metro system
Riyadh's futuristic metro system
Riyadh's futuristic metro system
Riyadh's futuristic metro system
Riyadh's futuristic metro system
Riyadh's futuristic metro system
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • $22 billion project to build new metro network in Saudi Arabian capital
  • 85 stations and 176 km of train lines will be built over five years
  • Currently only 2% of commuters in Riyadh use public transport
  • Zaha Hadid Architects have designed one of the flag-ship stations

(CNN) -- Can car-loving Saudis be convinced to step out of their air-conditioned comfort and take public transport?

The Saudi Arabian government believes they can and is backing its belief by investing $22 billion into a public transport mega-project in the capital Riyadh.

Set to begin construction early next year, a new metro network will encompass over 176 km (110 miles) of train lines and 85 stations, linking the city center to universities, the airport, a newly built financial district and commercial areas.

The first trains as slated to run in 2019. During construction, it will be the world's biggest public transport project, employing tens of thousands of people, developers say.

According to the High Commission for the Development of Arriyadh, all carriages will be air-conditioned and divided into first, family and single class.

Buses and trains take a distant second to personal cars in Riyadh and according to FCC Construction only 2% of commuters in the Saudi Arabian capital take public transport.

It's no surprise because gasoline is highly subsidized -- a gallon at the petrol pumps costs around $0.50. According to Bloomberg, the world's largest oil producer ranks only second to Venezuela for the world's cheapest gasoline. According to reports, the Saudi government is weighing up increasingly the cost of fuel to give public transport a boost.

Read more: Ramadan's Super Bowl effect

Riyadh today is one of the world's fastest growing cities and our citizens deserve a world-class public transport system.
Ibrahim Bin Muhammad Al Sultan

Chronically underdeveloped until now, the expansion of public transport in the Saudi capital will also cope with the projected boom in the local population. It has more than doubled since 1990 to 5.3 million and is set to top 8 million by 2030.

"Riyadh today is one of the world's fastest growing cities and our citizens deserve a world-class public transport system to enhance their quality of life... it will also help to reduce traffic congestion and improve air quality," said Ibrahim Bin Muhammad Al Sultan President of Arriyadh Development Authority and Member of the High Commission for the Development of Arriyadh.

Of the six lines to be built, three will be constructed by Spain's FCC Construction company, working in partnership in a consortium including Samsung and Alstom. U.S. Firm Bechtel and Italian company Ansaldo STS lead the other two construction consortia.

Read more: Google's view from world's tallest building

As well as an extensive network, it is hoped that the stunning look of some the new stations will help to tempt locals away from their cars.

Zaha Hadid Architects will build the King Abdullah Financial District station, one of the flagship interchange stops along Line 1. With six platforms spread over four floors, and linking three of the new lines, the architects hope it will provide a multi-function public space.

According to the architects, the white facade of the station will reduce heat from the punishing desert sun while the undulating lines of the building are meant to resemble the patterns generated by desert winds on sand dunes.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
October 28, 2014 -- Updated 1418 GMT (2218 HKT)
Not long ago camel milk was an unfancied staple, the preserve of Bedouin herders. Now its becoming a luxury.
October 9, 2014 -- Updated 0212 GMT (1012 HKT)
Managing over 2 million people during the Hajj takes some serious technology.
October 7, 2014 -- Updated 0611 GMT (1411 HKT)
More needs to be done so women from Saudi Arabia can become world champions in sports.
October 30, 2014 -- Updated 1729 GMT (0129 HKT)
Is nothing sacred? How tech allows narcissism to run riot.
From the waters of the Persian Gulf a new mega museum is emerging.
September 26, 2014 -- Updated 1103 GMT (1903 HKT)
Where better to start a record-breaking solar powered flight than the desert?
September 24, 2014 -- Updated 1427 GMT (2227 HKT)
Ahmed Eldin is the 18-year-old behind the prog-rock band's new album cover. Shine on you crazy diamond.
September 17, 2014 -- Updated 1153 GMT (1953 HKT)
The Humans of New York photo project exposes the hopes and fears of ordinary people in Iraq and Jordan.
September 10, 2014 -- Updated 0206 GMT (1006 HKT)
Dubai's appetite for construction continues with multi-billion dollar boost to build the world's largest airport.
September 9, 2014 -- Updated 0302 GMT (1102 HKT)
The UAE is becoming a hub for plastic surgery with more Emiratis going under the knife each year.
August 21, 2014 -- Updated 1120 GMT (1920 HKT)
Meet Erdal Inci, a digital artist from Turkey who is transforming the medium.
August 14, 2014 -- Updated 1339 GMT (2139 HKT)
Iran is pumping billions of dollars into a scheme to save a lake. What's so important about it?
ADVERTISEMENT